The Home School Court Report
No. 5

In This Issue


Special Feature
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compiled by Court Report Staff
- disclaimer -
Homeschooling Today & Tommorrow

Today, homeschooling is a widely respected educational option. Homeschoolers are involved in nearly every area of society and are giving back to their communities and their world. Although the right to homeschool has been firmly established across the United States, new threats to this right have appeared on the horizon in the last few years. Some attacks have been leveled directly at the right to homeschool, while others have been aimed at its foundation, which includes parental rights.

Then & Now

HSLDA legal contacts increase:

August 1986–July 1987
371 legal contacts

August 2006–July 2007
18,699 legal contacts

As recently as six months ago, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District ruled that it was illegal for parents to homeschool under the state’s time-honored private school exemption. Thankfully, the court did reverse its decision, but its action shows that, even in a state with one of the highest homeschooling populations in the nation, the right to homeschool cannot be taken for granted. (Read this issue’s cover story for more details.)

U.S. courts, legislatures, and child welfare services are showing increasing disregard for parental rights, along with an alarming regard for anti-parent trends in international law and United Nations treaties (such as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child). In the face of these threats, homeschoolers from diverse backgrounds are joining together to protect homeschooling freedom and to encourage parents around the world to pursue that freedom. Today’s homeschoolers provide living illustrations that homeschooling freedom really works!

Please note: This compilation highlights some of the people and organizations that helped grow the modern homeschooling movement. We apologize for any omissions on our part.

State Celebrations
Excelling in National Contests
Joe Shepherd

Eighth-grader Joe Shepherd (center of picture) of Waynesboro, Georgia, won the 2006 Reader’s Digest National Word Power Challenge, earning a $25,000 college scholarship and becoming the first homeschooler to take first place.

Evan O'Dorney In 2007, just 10 years after Rebecca Sealfon’s historic win, Evan O’Dorney became the third home-schooler to sweep the top spot at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Caitlyn Snaring

By winning the 2007 National Geography Bee, Caitlyn Snaring became the sixth homeschooler and the first girl in 17 years to win the contest.

FIRST Team Challenge Winners

On April 17-18, 2008, a team of seven homeschooled high schoolers swept the FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) World Championship in Atlanta, Georgia, taking home a Winning Alliance Team trophy and the Amaze Award.

Scoring in the Sports Arena

Matthew Betsill, homeschooled from kindergarten through high school, Matthew Betsill signed with the Minnesota Twins after being selected in the 10th round of the 2005 major league baseball draft.

On August 25, 2008, 18-year-old homeschool graduate Joey Logano became part of the Joe Gibbs NASCAR Sprint Cup racing team, as one of the youngest drivers to officially enter the national circuit.

Tim Tebow

On December 8, 2007, Tim Tebow became the first homeschooled athlete and the first college sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy.

In the Legislatures

Since the passage of the federal Keeping Children and Families Safe Act of 2003, 22 states have reformed their child welfare laws to require child protective services workers to be trained in citizens’ 4th Amendment rights and to reveal allegations at the time of investigation.

Nevada Passing in 2007, Nevada Senate Bill 404 eliminated over 50% of the existing homeschool regulation, including the unconstitutionally vague requirement that homeschoolers provide “equivalent instruction” to that of the public school.

Virginia Capitol

In 2006, Virginia House Bill 1340 changed the parent education requirement under one of the state’s homeschool options: now a parent need only possess a high school diploma, not a bachelor’s degree, in order to homeschool.

In 2004, six families filed statements with their school districts under Pennsylvania’s newly enacted Religious Freedom Protection Act declaring that the state’s stringent home education law substantially burdened their free exercise of religion. These school districts rejected the statements and prosecuted the families for truancy. On August 21, 2008, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the families. HSLDA is considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On June 26, 2008, the Parental Rights Constitutional Amendment bill (House Joint Resolution 97) was introduced by Rep. Pete Hoekstra in the House of Representatives. This amendment would protect parental rights—which are foundational to the right to homeschool—from future erosion by our own culture or international law.

Vermont Capitol

Homeschooling parents in New Hampshire and Vermont used to have a wagonload of paperwork to turn in each year. But in 2006, the state legislatures significantly reduced required paperwork.

On July 16, 2008, the D.C. State Board of Education passed new regulations requiring parents to submit an annual notification of intent to homeschool, maintain a portfolio of students’ work, and undergo up to two annual portfolio reviews by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to determine whether a homeschool program is providing “regular, thorough instruction.” The OSSE has arbitrary discretion to implement these provisions.

In a unanimous decision in the case In re Rachel L., handed down on August 8, 2008, the California Court of Appeal for the Second Appellate District upheld parents’ right to homeschool under the private school exemption. This completely reversed an opinion issued by the same three-judge panel in February 2008, which would have made California the only state in the union to outlaw home education.